Thursday, October 01, 2009
Black and White Postcard from the Deindustrializing Heartland
For some in this increasingly two-tier economy, it is forever Christmas. But for others it's definitely not, no matter how much people say the recovery is under way -- especially in the deindustrializing Rust Belt.
I took this picture on Labor Day in Kenosha. WI, the old manufacturing city on Lake Michigan with a double-digit jobless rate. It has taken many hits in recent decades, especially when the auto industry and many of its suppliers pulled out. I was reminded of Kenosha by the headlines yesterday saying that the Fed's Midwest manufacturing index had dropped again -- down now more than 20% compared with a year earlier, vs. a national decline of "only" 12%. It's possible to see the silver lining in all this -- but you probably have to be Corporate Report Wisconsin to see Kenosha and similarly afflicted Racine just to the north along the lake as "shining beacons."
And what is it about this "jobless recovery," anyhow? A recovery for Wall Street only? How can some people be basking in a stock market-fueled "recovery," when the country is filled with areas where the real unemployment rate, by the time you add in the people who have stopped looking for work, is flirting with Depression levels and people are losing their homes left and right? What kind of recovery is that?
It makes you wonder about the corporate news media. If the Great Depression had been broadcast in living color on television every night, would we have a sunnier view of it as well?